Phillip Potter mixes fine art with consumer culture in The Davenport Collection

With his art, Phillip Potter investigations the correlation between interior design, home decoration and fine art. His current show, The DavenPort Collection , which runs through February 26 at Edge, is a subtle nod to the role of fine art in America's consumer-minded society, a slight satire on how visual culture can be taken seriously or brushed off just as easily, as mere embellishment on the walls.

Potter grew up in north Denver. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago for two years but, unsatisfied, returned to his hometown to create art on his own terms. While Potter was producing pieces that many viewers found "beautiful," he says, he realized that despite his purest intentions, he was creating works that someone might look at and think, "Oh, that matches my couch!"

This current show embraces the theme of art in American's couch-surfing lifestyle, with oil paintings that are abstract representations of colors, such as Blue and Yellow. There's even a couch in the gallery so that you can experience the art as the background of a living room. Katdeth, Potter's wife and frequent collaborator, also created video installations for The Davenport Collection.

"As a whole, my work has developed independently of any home decor influence," Potter explains. "These particular paintings are an investigation of organic forms, a transition from my previous work."

Here are more of Potter's thoughts on the art world:

Westword: Will there ever be a separation between avant garde and kitsch?

Phillip Potter: Avant garde and kitsch have always played off one another. No working artist could deny this. There have been times where the two seemed to work independently -- the twentieth century being a prime example. However, the foundations of art on both levels develop in response to the leading aesthetics of the era, leaving the avant garde to either attempt to break the kitsch model or respond to it.

How will the future artistic innovations be new and challenging without referencing the past?

All innovative work in the contemporary field references humanity on some levels, be it politics, art movements or human anatomy. Artists have accepted and embraced the knowledge that nothing is created in a vacuum, and create from the own knowledge base. Inherent in their knowledge base is historical artists, as well as the community of contemporary working artists. Artistic innovations will expand as the cultures that create them do.

Do you think that more elevated art is only encouraged in European countries, since America is so connected to pop and consumer culture?

Artists worldwide are creating innovative and provocative work. It is not limited to Europe and the States. There are similarities between American artists and their European counterparts. Americans are Eurocentric but are not Europeans; the removal creates opportunity for interesting comparisons. The same applies for Chinese, Japanese and Middle Eastern artists. If you really want to see "pop" art, look at Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. Andy Warhol was the most pop of the pop. I respect pop artists, but am inspired by other artists, like [Belgian artist] Wim Delvoye.

What other artistic outlets are you exploring, aside from painting?

As an artist there are so many avenues and interests of modes of working. I think many artists these days have more than the classic interpretation of materials to work with. I have many other artistic endeavors that I spend much of my time working on other than painting. I have been working on innoculating formed substrates with mushroom spores; the end goal with this "mushroom" project is to manipulate light, gravity and O2/C02 to have some sort of aesthetic response to real organic shape and imagery. Granted, this project is a long way off from assemblage to be consumed by the public.

I also play with digital work and the huge impact that digital information has on the world currently. My digital work, Mundane Repetition, is twelve-simultaneously loading Youtube videos of me brushing my teeth over about six days or so. The purpose of these are to find beauty in the small things in life that we all do, somewhat unknowingly. This allows one to take a step back and observe life rituals in a different context. I will be continuing to paint, manipulate fungi, and play with digital mediums in the future.

For more on Phillip Potter, go to www.phillippotter.com.

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